Jiri Barta (1948-present) is a Czech stop-motion animation director, he’s remembered for his refreshingly dark creations. His films gained critics praise and won him many a reward for his wooden crafted stop-motion features. Barta’s career took a major hit after the fall of the communist government in Czechoslovakia, as he was unable in 15 years to release and promote features or animated films. Through the 90’s he attempted to kick start his career again, yet failed in respects to becoming well-known within the industry. Recently he composed his first CG animated short and in 2009 released a children’s puppet animated film. His style is distinctive and seductive in the sense he brings his audience into the world he creates and makes it a believable environment.
Jenny Jediny states, "Jirí Barta is one such study; unlike Svankmajer, Barta’s work is not nearly as encompassing in its scope or output ... Initially dabbling with cutout shorts, Barta later experimented with stop-motion and puppetry, and within seven years of his first short completed The Pied Piper of Hamelin, still considered a masterpiece of Czech animation." (Jediny 2007) Jediny observes how Barta's career has progressed through the years and the impact his animations have bought to the eye of the public. His style is innovative and enigma is built in this estranged environment.
A wonder world of wooden crafted shops and quaint streets are portrayed in Barta's The Pied Piper (1986). The film is easy to be engrossed by and the hidden themes of mortally are subtly prominent. The sound works well and adds to the enigma built. Ivana Košuličová suggests, "Barta's film creates a striking contrast to the Disney conception of the pied piper legend as a children's comedy. Barta's adaption is a challenging and metaphoric morality ..." (Košuličová 1985) Košuličová compares Barta's style and expresses how the adaptation is a far cry from the popular culture of children's animation.
Jamie Rich observes, "Barta's longest and most famous piece [The Pied Piper of Hamelin]. He takes a familiar tale and twists it around, using stop motion animation to erect a town rife with gluttony. The citizens of Hamelin have resigned themselves to a life of drudgery and repetition, slaves to their own greed. Barta illustrates them trudging back and forth to work as flat figures straight out of a storybook, but styled more like woodblock carvings. They jabber at each other in a gibberish language, arguing over every little cent and playing cruel tricks on one another. Their city is bent and bloated, warped to look like an impressionistic painting, or something out of Picasso's cubist period. Only the rats that take over the town are consistently three-dimensional, decorated with real fur. The vermin taking over are a product of Hamelin's decadence, and the damage they cause brings the town to its knees." (Rich 2006) Rich expresses in detail the themes and narrative of one of Barta's best known pieces. He focuses on the hidden messages and stop-motion tricks that Barta uses. The attention to detail is expressed beautifully and the fact his backdrops are compared to Picasso's cubist period shows how artistically developed the piece.
List of illustrations
Figure 1. Jiri Barta. At: http://www.pekarna.org/web/datoteke/File/Jiri%20BartaINT.jpg (Accessed on:2/4/12)
Figure 2. Barta, Jiri (1986) The Pied Piper. At: http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/images/reviews/177/1158723060.jpg (Accessed on:2/4/12)
Figure 3. Barta, Jiri (1986) The Pied Piper. At: http://i415.photobucket.com/albums/pp240/movierapture/kk/krysar/aaa.jpg (Accessed on:2/4/12)
Jenny Jediny (2007) The Animation of Jirí Barta. At: http://notcoming.com/features/jiribarta/ (Accessed on:3/4/12)
Jamie Rich (2006) Jiri Barta: Labyrinth of Darkness. At: http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/23937/jiri-barta-labyrinth-of-darkness/ (Accessed on:3/4/12)
Ivana Košuličová (1985) The morality of horror. At: http://www.kinoeye.org/02/01/kosulicova01_no2.php (Accessed on:3/4/12)